Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Somali 'pirates' face Dutch court

A Dutch navy gunman stands guard as a cargo ship passes near the Gulf of Aden in December 2008
More than 150 suspected pirates were arrested in the Gulf of Aden in 2008

Five suspected Somali pirates are to appear in a Netherlands court over an alleged foiled attack on a ship in the Gulf of Aden, say Dutch prosecutors.

They were extradited after being arrested by the Danish Navy following a 2 January attempt to board a Dutch Antilles-registered cargo freighter.

The Samanyulo's crew kept the gang at bay with signal flares until a naval frigate came to sink the pirates' boat.

The accused risk up to nine years in jail if found guilty.

The alleged leader of the group could face a 12-year sentence if convicted.

A Rotterdam magistrate will decide on Wednesday whether to remand them in custody for more two weeks, the Dutch Public Prosecution Office said.

Prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP news agency on Tuesday the accused had been flown to the Netherlands on a military plane from the Gulf state of Bahrain.

More than 150 suspected pirates were arrested by naval patrols in the same shipping lane in 2008, a maritime safety conference heard last month in Djibouti.

France has already jailed a dozen Somali pirates detained last year by French commandos after hijacking two luxury yachts in the Gulf of Aden.

Pirates attacked more than 130 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden last year, more than double the number of the previous year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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